1777: Dear Diary

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Dear Diary
Dear Diary: UNSUBSCRIBE
Title text: Dear Diary: UNSUBSCRIBE

Explanation[edit]

Black Hat is writing in a diary (probably his, but possibly not; see below). His entry starts with the common idiom "Dear diary". In a regular diary entry, this opening is used to give the impression of writing to a trusted friend, the diary being anthropomorphized to take that friend's role. However, where other people would write about their day or put their feelings into words, Black Hat's diary entry consists of a standard phishing scam attempting to request some private information in exchange for a large cash amount which does not exist. In this case, the scam is the famous Nigerian Royalty scam, where the 'royalty' needs bank details to give money, when it will in fact be taken. Black Hat apparently is so used to tricking people that even his own anthropomorphized diary is not safe from his pranks. Alternatively, the entry is intended for anyone who looks at his diary without his permission. It's also possible he has obtained someone else's diary and is somehow trying to scam the diary's owner, although it's not clear how that might work. Or, since it is a rather obvious scam, he may simply being trying to scare the diary's owner, perhaps the same child as he traumatized in the previous comic with a reindeer mutated to look like a spider.

This comic creates a stark contrast by putting together elements that seem similar, but do not belong together, for comedic effect.

  • Combining old-school hand written media (a diary) and memes from the electronic age (a phishing attempt as usually found in spam mail).
  • Contrasting the very personal, intimate atmosphere of "Dear diary" with something that is normally automatically replicated to millions of mail addresses.
  • Opening up with a sentence that might come from a real personal diary (many people will fantasize about being rich or famous in their diaries), and following up with something that nobody would expect from a personal diary.

It is possible that the diary is actually the journal from the Journal series, and that ever since being outdone by Danish, he no longer uses it for recording all the things he would say if he were nice.

The title text is similar to 1675: Message in a Bottle, which also uses the word "unsubscribe" in an unusual way. The title text also mimics a standard way to get off some mailing lists, so perhaps it's Randall's diary that Black Hat is molesting, and therefore the title-text is Randall expressing a desire to be disassociated from it.

Transcript[edit]

[Black Hat is seated at a table, writing with a pencil in a diary.]
Writing: Dear Diary,
Writing: Hello. I am the Crown Prince of Nigeria. I have recently come into a large fortune, but...


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Discussion

I am not sure if he is actually referring to his own diary. His characters can't interact with him, and never do. To me, it seemed more like Black Hat is so used to fisching on the web that he can't even write a regular diary entry. 108.162.219.22 06:15, 26 December 2016 (UTC)Innertuber40

Is it possible that instead of the metaphoric "Dear Diary", maybe he is literally writing to a person named "Diary"? This can explain the phishing mail body, at least in some extent. --162.158.59.172 12:51, 26 December 2016 (UTC)

Would kind of explain why the title text was "UNSUBSCRIBE". Might be that someone else found his diary. Who knows? --JayRulesXKCD what's up? 14:21, 5 January 2017 (UTC)

Just seemed to be an absurd comic to me when I read it. I hadn't considered that he could be applying a scam as a contingency for someone finding his diary, or simply planting it to be found, but it wouldn't be out of character for him to do so. 162.158.122.102 13:15, 26 December 2016 (UTC)

A tangent here is the Key, by Tanizaki Junichiro. In it, we read about the lives of a married couple through their respective diaries, and eventually they begin writing in less than honest terms as they know the other is reading their own diary, but keep playing along. A masterful work. 162.158.58.21 19:23, 26 December 2016 (UTC)

Tom Riddle (especially if he'd gotten a wealthier host) definitely should've tried this. 108.162.219.148 00:34, 27 December 2016 (UTC)

Didn't Lucius Malfoy (Mr. Wealthy himself) originally have the diary? 162.158.165.238 10:56, 27 December 2016 (UTC)

The title text may be a reference to a common occurrence on email discussion lists. Often, people attempting to unsubscribe from the mailing list will unwittingly send an email out to the whole list that just says "unsubscribe". These, like the Nigerian scam emails, are worthless emails that might clog your inbox. 162.158.58.141 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Perhaps this is a commentary on the practice of blogging itself, and how far it's come from its roots in its paper-media analogue (the diary). Though that's as far as I've gotten - I haven't taken this thought to any of its logical conclusions (whatever they might be). 162.158.75.16 13:43, 27 December 2016 (UTC)

This could be a Harry Potter reference. If the Diary is the horcrux of Tom Riddle, aka Lord Voldemort, then Black Hat could be attempting to trick Tom Riddle into the Nigerian scam. The alt-text could indicate a version of Tom Riddle that is internet savvy. 108.162.215.232 02:28, 28 December 2016 (UTC)

As with "1767: US State Names"---a strip that similarly seems absurd at first impression---"1777: Dear Diary" can be read as a realistic description of non-rational elements of human cognition. Specifically, "1767: US State Names" describes how (in practice) we call names to mind, whereas "1777: Dear Diary" describes how (in practice) we call meanings to mind. The point illustrated is that we conceive our own cognition as rationally structured, even though it's not. Read in this light, this particular strip (and others like) is not absurd, but rather is realistic and illuminating. John Sidles (talk) 05:50, 28 December 2016 (UTC)

The Nigerian scam is not a "meme from the electronic age", it existed long before e-mail, though on a much smaller scale due to the cost of paper mail. Zetfr 18:46, 29 December 2016 (UTC)

Knowing Black Hat this could be the first step for creating a complete Brainwash/Training Room for really convincing future scammers. --Gunterkoenigsmann (talk) 05:58, 11 January 2017 (UTC)